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Winter Olympic Sports
Do you have what it takes to go to the Winter Olympics? Olympic athletes train for hours each day to cultivate the strength and skills they need to excel in their particular sport. Their resulting talents vary widely. Here's a run-down of the sports in the Winter Games and the type of fitness needed to compete.
BiathalonSlide 2 of 19
Biathletes mix cross-country skiing with marksmanship. Races vary in length from 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) to 12.4 miles (20 km), with pauses to target-shoot.
"Their cardiovascular conditioning is extremely high," said Scott Caulfield, the head strength coach at the National Strength and Conditioning Association in Colorado Springs, who has helped train Olympic and Paralympic athletes. But biathletes don't need the explosive strength of bobsledders or even figure skaters.Slide 3 of 19
BobsledSlide 4 of 19
Bobsledders have to be able to accelerate rapidly while generating huge amounts of force to push a heavy bobsled up to 164 feet (50 meters). The speed gathered at the top of the track translates into a faster slide to the bottom, so every millisecond counts. The team's brakeman, who rides in the back, has to be especially large and strong, said Ambrose Serrano, the strength and conditioning coach at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y.
"They're as fast as an NFL running back in terms of being able to run a 40-yard dash, but they're really as big and strong as a lot of linebackers," Serrano told Live Science. [6 Odd Olympic Competitors]Slide 5 of 19
Cross-Country SkiingSlide 6 of 19
Like the biathletes who cross-country ski as part of their event, cross-country skiers have excellent endurance. Men's events can be as long as 31 miles (50 km), and women's 18.6 miles (30 km). These athletes will have a very high VO2 max, or maximal aerobic capacity, said Brad DeWeese, a professor of kinesiology, leisure and sports studies at East Tennessee State University. That means they can take in a lot of oxygen per minute, making their bodies efficient over long periods of exercise.
"The cross-country skiers are probably the aerobic gods," agreed Carl Foster, a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. In laboratory tests, cross-country skiers have among the highest VO2 maximums ever seen in humans, Foster told Live Science.Slide 7 of 19
CurlingSlide 8 of 19